One of the first things on my list was this quilt. I knew it was probably a big undertaking to learn how to quilt, but I was committed to it. I think I’ve mentioned before that my grandmother taught me how to use a sewing machine…I regard this skill as the best gift she ever gave me. But quilting is a whole new ballgame.
So I sat down a few weeks ago to actually learn the basics…and was shocked to find out it’s not hard at all! You just need a little bit of patience and a couple more supplies.
Here’s how I did it!
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1. Gather your supplies.
Yes, there are a few things I regard as “essentials” when you’re making a quilt. Here’s a list of things I think you absolutely have to have to make it successful.
- Rotary Cutter*
- Self-Healing Cutting Mat*
- Large Acrylic Quilting Ruler*
(*I was able to find all three of these in a set…by far the cheapest way to buy them that I could find.)
- Sewing Machine
- Good, sharp pair of scissors
- New sewing machine needle (so it’s nice and sharp)
- Fabric (see below for measurements on my quilt)
- Quilt Batting
- Quilt Back (I used a twin-sized flat sheet I found at a local discount store for $3!)
- T-Shirts (9 would be minimum…I used 12 and it made almost a perfect twin-sized quilt)
- Big Safety Pins
- Bias Tape Maker
Here are a few things that would probably make it easier, but aren’t essential.
- Walking foot (This is a foot for your sewing machine that helps feed the fabric through easier…I did fine without it, but a lot of sites I read swear by it.)
- Nylon Thread (I loved using this – it’s very thin, so kind of hard to work with, but it can be used on any fabric when quilting because it’s so thin and see-through.)
2. Gather measurements.
First, I sat down and drew out a “blueprint” for my quilt.
Don’t you love how professional this looks? 🙂 Kidding.
The gray pieces represent my t-shirt squares…they were cut to 15″x15″ (more on that later).
The dark purple were each cut to 15″x3.5″…and you need 17 of them for this pattern. (You’ll need a half yard of fabric for this color.)
The light purple pieces, my end pieces, had 2 different sizes…2 of them were cut to 69″x7.5″, and 2 were cut to 71″x7.5″. (You’ll need 2 yards of fabric for this color.)
The light blue pieces were actually a pretty pattern I found at the fabric store…you’ll need 6 3.5″x3.5″ squares. I also used this fabric for my bias tape that sealed off the edges (more on that below), which requires a half yard of fabric…so go on and get 3/4 yard of this fabric, and you might have leftovers.
3. Cut your fabric.
Now to the scary part! I say scary – it’s really not that bad.
First, the shirts. Here’s the best way I found to do this.
1. Start at the bottom of the shirt, right below the armpit, and cut straight up to the armpit of one side of the shirt. Then, follow the seam of the shirt all the way around the back of the shoulder, neck, and other shoulder…don’t actually cut the seams out, just use it as a guide. Get as close as you can to them so you have more fabric to work with! Once you get to the other armpit, cut straight down to the bottom of the shirt.
3. Go to the bottom of the design, measuring 15″ from the top cut, and cut another straight edge using the ruler and the rotary cutter. If that bottom cut is looking a little close to the design, and you have a little bit too much room up top, you can go back and make another cut at the top.
4. On the cutting mat, see what number on the grid is in the middle of your shirt’s design (it was usually around 12 or 13 for me). Take that number and subtract 7.5 from it…make a straight cut at that number. Now, add 7.5 to it…make a straight cut. This makes sure your design is centered in your square.
And voila! You have a centered, pretty t-shirt square. Really rely on your cutting mat’s grid and your rotary cutter for this.
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